By Chris Ochayi
ABUJA — The Association of Federal Public Service Retirees, AFPSR, Thursday, cried out to President Goodluck Jonathan to intervene and save them from impending agonies, saying the looting in the pension offices was resurfacing.
The retirees alleged that some unscrupulous elements, not pensioners, were taking advantage of the disbandment of Pension Reform Task Fund, PRTT, to plunge the sector into uncertainty in order to bring back the pension offices to the gloomy days of corrupt practices with no restraint.
Chairman of AFPSR, Chief Emmanuel Omoyeni, who addressed newsmen in Abuja, specifically accused the National Union of Pensioners, NUP, of interfering with the affairs of the retirees, even when their officials were not federal pensioners.
He said: “It is important for Nigerians to know that Nigeria Union of Pensioners, NUP, has no business in interfering with the demand of the Federal Public Service Retirees, for the reinstatement of the Pension Reform Task Team, PRTT.
“This is because the NUP officials are not federal pensioners and are part of the stealing machinery in the pension sector. The NUP is alleged to have stolen over N2.7 billion of the pension funds.
“It is important to note that the NUP leadership under Alhaji Ali Abacha, a retiree of the local government, and the Secretary General, Zack Actol, not a pensioner were arrested, investigated, prosecuted and imprisoned in Kuje prison by Dr. Maina led Task Force for alleged stealing of over N2.7 billion pension funds belonging to federal retirees.
“The NUP has collected billions of naira as check-off dues, these are monies being removed from the pensions of federal retirees without our consent.
“These funds run into billions and are usually shared between officials of the HoS pension office and the NUP at the detriment of the ailing, voiceless and weak pensioners.”
Calling on President Jonathan to reinstate Dr. Abdulrasheed Maina’s Pension Reform Task Team to forestal further plundering of the pension sector, the retirees noted that the truth had finally been known.
The retirees added that Nigerians had now seen how the Senate was misled to descend on the PRTT for no reason whatsoever.
The association, which also earnestly requested Mr. President to verify claims of PRTT, with a view to honestly know the truth of what it was saying about the task team, regretted that the credible pensioners database built by the PRTT was not currently in use as result of the agency’s disbanding.
“The pensioners’ authentic biometric database of which the federal government has so far expended a lot of resources with the combined selfless effort, patriotism and vigilance of the anti-graft and security agencies, is not in use because it is in the custody of the task team and it is the only credible pensioners’ database we have in this country.
“The Smart Cards produced by the PRTT with the intention of stopping the incessant verifications that caused the death of many pensioners; and equally will serve as proof against further stealing of pension funds through bogus verification claims.
“There are over 142,000 pensioners’ files painstakingly produced and converted into electronic filing system by the Team. These are very important assets without which the pension system could not be documented for efficient management.
“A successful pension transition would never be achieved without PRTT conclusion of the restructuring of the pension offices because the dependable ways and means of managing the affairs of old pension system is at the disposal of the Task Team,” he said.